Face of Empire

United States–Philippine Relations, 1898–1946

Frank Hindman Golay

Tracing the intricate development of U.S. colonial policy in the Philippines, the author probes the hidden forces behind American objectives that continuously transformed these two nations. This riveting historical account follows McKinley’s administration through Philippines independence. In the moving final passage of this work, Golay concludes that the U.S., a country he dearly loved, had betrayed its own well-intentioned effort at colonial development by dictating dishonorable terms of independence on an infant republic.


Professor Frank Golay began his career as Professor of Economics and Asian Studies at Cornell  University in 1953. Over the next three decades, he chaired Cornell’s Department of Economics (1963-67), directed its Southeast Asia Program (1970-76), and was elected president of the Association for Asian Studies in 1984.

Throughout his long career, he remained, above all, a specialist in Philippine economic development. In his application to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the grant that sustained this volume, Golay wrote that his motivation for this study was a “dissatisfaction with the current state of historiography dealing with America’s colonial enterprise.” He believed that a small number of secondary sources on U.S. colonial policy in the Philippines were being recirculated to such an extent that, even in academic circles, they overshadowed primary and secondary sources of greater historical importance.

After his retirement from Cornell in 1981, Golay devoted himself to this study, his last, building it into a monumental re-examination of Philippine-American relations under colonial rule. Towards the end of this project, he himself described it as this “monstrous manuscript surveying American colonial rule in the Philippines, which has burdened my waking hours for eight years.” This volume is, then, the culmination of an extraordinary career and a remarkable personal struggle against a cruel illness that ultimately forced him to leave this manuscript partially incomplete at the time of his death.